Mad-building Award-winning architecture

Project information
Oslo S utvikling AS

Project contact

Torkel Njå

+47 926 07 838

Award-winning architecture, spectacular location and a plot that it should be impossible to place a house on: the Mad-building in Bjørvika is simply one of Norway’s most unique apartment complexes.

As a part of the Barcode project in Bjørvika, Oslo’s new face to the outside world and most recognizable urban development; the Mad-building depicted in everything from international advertising campaigns for Norway to the vignette on NRK’s evening news.

This is the kind of house that wins awards and is part of a trademark by virtue of the location and what it symbolizes.

"This is the kind of house that wins awards and is part of a trademark by virtue of the location and what it symbolizes"


It’s not just the location on the waterfront in the new Fjord City that is unique. The plot itself in Barcode have the absurd dimensions of 11 x 90 meters, and on each side looms large neighbouring buildings. Into this extremely narrow field, Mad arkitekter were to place an apartment complex that not only were to function. The requirement was that the building should contain housing with qualities that here in the style with Oslo’s most attractive addresses.

The answer was a building with dimensions that correspond to an old-fashioned CD cover on edge. The residential part of the Mad-building is not wider than 7 meters. But with two elevator cores, highly accomplished layouts and innovative thinking around balconies, the apartments are still bright and functional, where the extreme proportions do not appear as a limitation – but rather an asset.

Facade as more than decoration

While many neighbours have graphic, beautiful facades with intricate design, the Mad-building exterior is formed on the basis of strict functional requirements. And although the house is visually striking, the outer walls are not designed to impress, but to act.

The challenge lied in that the plot was so narrow that it could not hang balconies outside walls. But with seven meters wide, there weren’t much space to spare inwards the floors either. The solution was to create two facades, one inner and one outer shell, where perforated aluminium plates lies the outermost, outside an inner skin of wood and glass. The balconies were wedged among these.

This means that the Mad-building actually has a strict rectangular shape. But with sliding elements that act as shading draped outside a dynamic inner layer, the building still emerges as rich and vibrant.

"The challenge lied in that the plot was so narrow that it could not hang balconies outside walls"

Cycle lanes and city life

Like houses in the city, the Mad-building is classically divided with a base containing a fitness-centre and a café on the two lower floors, under a housing portion which extends 54 meters up to a beautiful roof terrace at the very top. The meeting with the ground is also characterized by very narrow spaces, and when these were to be designed, creative thinking was again necessary. For what could the narrow strips between the tall buildings really work for?

The answer was to use the one program that was required; bicycle parking, and build it out to a supporting architectural element. With its own design and custom bike racks designed as just bicycles, Mad created an entire cycle lane, a peloton, which is positioned as a sculptural installation facing to the fjord. Read more about the Mad Bikes at!

A signal of a future-oriented district with orientation towards international waters and clear ambitions to take the environmental challenges seriously.

Photos by Jiri Havran and Tomasz Majewski.

MAD Instagram

Instagram: @madarkitekter

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Instagram: @madarkitekter

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Instagram: @madarkitekter

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